December 10, 2007

CD Review: Danny Diablo - Thugcore 4 Life

A couple of years back I found myself getting into Hatebreed. I had heard them years ago and was not all that impressed. Then I decided to check out some of their newer stuff and liked what I heard (especially their latest, Supremacy, killer disk). Anyway, looking for some related music I saw the debut album from Icepick, the side project of Hatebreed's voice Jamey Jasta and longtime friend Danny Singer (aka Lord Ezec, aka Danny Diablo). I was disappointed with it and quickly forgot about it and Danny Diablo. Then I got my hands on the latest Danny Diablo release, Thugcore 4 Life, and kept wondering where I had heard that name before. I listened to it and was ill prepared for what I heard. The album was a mix of hardcore and hip hop. I looked up Diablo's name and then had a V8 moment he is in Icepick!

Like I said, I was ill prepared for what emanated from speakers in the time immediately following my pressing of the play button. Hardcore and hip hop is a combination that I have never come across before. Rock and rap, metal and rap, pop and rap, sure. There was even this whole subgenre of nu-metal that mined the depths of the metal/rap crossover potential for all it was worth and then some, virtually killing a style that could have a lot to offer in the long run, something we will now never know. Now hardcore and rap? This is something new to me. I have my doubts that it something new, but I have not been exposed to this particular combination before.

Now Danny Diablo has a long and storied history that is firmly entrenched and intrinsically linked to the New York Hardcore scene. If you have read me before, you will know that I am not the biggest hardcore fan, but there always the exceptions to the rules. No matter what genre you talk about, there is sure to be an artist that will buck the trend and get tied up in my brain matter to the point that I cannot help but say I like it. Thugcore 4 Life is one of those albums that has succeeded in getting past my cranial shield. Listening to Danny Diablo's impossible to ignore aggression and straight up attitude is an infectious proposition. Not infectious in the let's get together and rock out, oh no. This is more like injecting a serious desire to grab someone and straight up throw down.

The songs on this album are big, booming, dirty, and aggressive. This is music from and for the streets. It is angry, raw, and punishing. Is it good? I don't really know. I know that it is hard to stop listening to it. This is good workout music, it gets the adrenaline flowing and you just may be afraid of what could happen if you stop.

Thugcore 4 Life veers from the hardcore of songs like "We Don't Care" and "The Harsh Truth" to straight up hip hop with "Get Down" and "I'm a Shotblocker" to songs that introduce even more elements like the ska inflected "Livin' by the Gun" and the groove driven "Banged Out." No matter how different a lot of these songs sound from one another, they always have the distinct aura of being created by the same artist.

Bottomline. Definitely a change of pace from my usual fare, but not so far off the beaten path as to be a foreign entity. Danny Diablo has the attitude and the skills to make these very different sounds mesh and work so well together. This is an album to check out. Both hardcore fans and hip hop fans will likely find something to like about this combination and could possibly discover something new to like.



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